Start from there

There is a Zen story which is quite relevant to introduce this topic.

A novice joined a monastery of a famous Zen master. As usual he asked for an interview with the master to receive instructions. “Where should I start from” was his question. The master pointed to the river nearby and replied: “do you hear that sound? Start from there.”

There is a widespread confusion about what awareness is or should be. This confusion comes from not having understood the basic difference between thought and perception. Most of us have difficulties to distinguish them, to differentiate them at every moment because we shift very quickly from one to the other. So some of us formulate the wrong conclusion that all is the outcome of thought.

The base for awareness is perception, physical perception or factual perception, just like hearing the sound of a river. This is our anchor, the place where we can safely start from for our enquiry into the phycological field. If we are not able to differentiate and so to dwell long enough in this state then our enquiries will be senseless. The senses, the physical senses are our life-belt, as the word “senseless” implies.

Reality is just what our senses perceive. The fact that we may get a wrong perception (due to several causes) does not invalidate this only way to be in touch with reality. Daily life requires us to be in touch with reality, so all of us have this capacity in different degrees and only a real alienate person or a madman has lost this capacity. This is a simple fact which does not need to be explained.

There is a similitude between our mind and the computer. Sometimes when we connect to a web site, we are not seeing the actual site but only a recorded one, stored in what is called “cache” memory. This is done to save time.

Similarly, we don’t really observe anymore the world around us because we have seen it so many times. Did you ever noticed that we, for instance, no more see the pictures we have in our walls? We have enjoyed them the first days we bought them and then after a while we stopped looking at them and give them for granted. Same thing with our friends, wives, husbands and so on. We only see our cache image.

How can we be sure to be really in touch with reality?

K. told us very clearly but it seems that very few of us payed attention to those words. K. used to ask: “Can you look, hear, with all your senses fully awake?”

Is that a transcendental state reserved only to special people like K?

No, it’s something quite common we all experiment once in a while; only we don’t give importance to it. Just two small examples. When we are in a completely new environment, like when we are travelling abroad, our senses are completely awake. We are eager to look, to hear, to smell everything new which is in front of us. That is of course if we are interested travelers and not just bored participants in an organized trip. And that’s why many people like to travel, to experience this sense of vitality, of the new.

The other case is when we are in a dangerous situation. We are crossing the street and a bus arrives. We immediately awake our senses to do the right and requested action.

(By the way, I made this example in a conversation, and the person accused me of wanting his death).

K. also referred to this state, calling it: “the art of observing” or “the art of listening”, and it’s something we all can learn to do in our daily life without the stimulus of a danger or of a new environment.

The importance of this state is that it bypasses the cache memory, so that we can see the reality as if for the first time. K. referred to this state when asked: “can you look at your wife without the past, as if for the first time?”.

And this means fist hand knowledge versus second hand or book knowledge. Something which also K. stressed. It’s appalling how the majority of people in this world never, or nearly never, uses or set in operation this first-hand knowledge. For centuries men have interpreted reality according to what their sacred books told, never asking themselves if there could be another way of knowing things. Then some men invented or discovered science, which is based on fist hand knowledge. It’s really sad that after all this time science is with us so few people (compared to the world population) have understood it. The majority of people, even in the western world, thinks that science is what one studies at school, that is second hand knowledge, and never appreciates the use of direct perception. This attitude is even more widespread in the so-called spiritual field where every knowledge is taken from a source of authority and not from reality itself. K. was the first to point out the necessity of direct perception and so direct knowledge.

Let’s examine a bit this state of having all our senses fully awake. We are fully aware of the outward reality, which is something happening now. This sense of the now is self-evident, it is proved by itself. No reasoning can prove it or not prove it. You will know it because your senses are fully operating without hindrances. So, you see clearly when you are thinking and when you are perceiving. The difference, which in our common drowsy state is not so clear, become unquestionable. This is the state we all must start from. And starting from this point, with this life-belt, we can adventure into the psychological realm without losing our orientation.

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The first time

When something suddenly happens, a phone rings, a door slams, a branch drops from a tree right in front of you, there is no awareness, and no starting point. Can I be there without reaction? Or is the reaction fully experiencing whatever it is? Just questions.

I have to take into account, conditioning, or indoctrination. This facility is not just the past, it is an ability we have which we apply again and again, adopting new skills and values, as we go. The conditioning is what separates us from the world and from not seeing clearly free from images. We can discover new tricks, new techniques, but to see the conditioned mind, which is I, me, you, this is shattering, something from which there is no recovery.

Ah! That’s it. You have a very personal idea of awareness. If a brach drops from a tree right in front of you, and you don’t have any reaction you are dead my friend! Dead both in the sense that there is no natural response in you and dead because if you don’t react instantly the brach can cause your death.
Why this negation of the body with all its natural, sane and utterly useful reaction?

There is no starting point for the person who is not interested in doing but just talking endlessly about conditioning, indoctrination, ect. Awareness is now, not in a hypothetical future, as love is now, not when or if the mind is free of conditioning. Awareness is connected with the senses, our senses, and in senses, when are fully awake, there is no indoctrination.

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OK…simple awake, awareness. I walk ‘in nature’ and observe the trees and the sky…listen to the birds, smell the flowers…all fully awake with no thoughts interfering . Is this what you’re speaking of voyager? I used to do this every day for a short period of time. I made a point to go out and walk among the trees and the natural beauty around me. I was out of work for over a year, and did this almost every day for an hour or so. I would lose myself in observing, looking, perceiving. There was no self in the looking and observing. K called this state of pure observation, the ‘benediction’, I think. However, this was not the end of the ‘self’ by any means. As soon as I returned back home the ‘me’ returned with my worries, my desires, and fears…my attachments…my ‘me’. K spoke of a total transformation. He meant something far more revolutionary than the simple undivided perception of the flower or tree, right? Observing can be free of the ‘me’ yes, but when observation ends, the me is still there. This is my experience and I thought it relevant to the discussion. What do you say?

Yes, this is relevant, at last! You are the first to tackle the issue.

What do I say? first that you have to read well all my post till the end and you will have the possibility to understand what I mean.

The title of my thread is “Start from there” not “remain there”. Start means that you move in one direction, and the state of being fully aware is just a starting point not a goal. I think this is fairly simple to understand, isn’t it? The movement (metaphorically) is the exploration of the psychological field, that is what I stated in the final part of my post. This means you observe your feelings, your fears, desire and so on. You know all that stuff, K. explained it quite well. And this is not all, there are a lot of other aspects, factors which must be tackled. Nobody can guide you in this exploration and you have to adventure in it alone. You can find everything you need to know in K., if you are interested in doing the job he pointed out.
I’m seeing that quite a few people here not only are not interested in K.'s teachings but actually they are here to negate them. I’m not presenting a personal opinion here, but just what K. stressed very often. Have you never heard him saying that?

One can start from different aspects of our mind/existence, and yet you will see that all those aspects are related. In having all the senses fully awake, or in learning the art of observation (which is the same) you can (not automatically yet) have for instance the experience of passion. At that is now not in the future, without if or but. You can start with passion and discover that all your senses are awake.

There is no causation relationship in the process of total transformation which K. spoke of. That means that even if you are full of passion (which is however a better state than living in a silent depression) or with your senses fully awake that will not lead you to or cause the total insight which produces that transformation. This is the problem with this job, there is no certainty to get results. And that’s why many of us prefer the traditional approach which - as they assure you - produces automatically or mechanically the desired results.

Yet one has to start, now and not wait untill you will get the complete insight or illumination. If your approach is wrong you will discover it by yourself. You don’t need anybody to tell it to you.

Again, as i said once to @Peter, to go far one must start near. That is another famous statemens of K.
Going around in nature can be fine - much better than living in our ugly cities - but if you think it will solve our problems you are deluding yourself. It’s simply a temporary escape from the turmoil of existence. It may be necessary but not sufficient. To start near means to tackle daiily problems, our psychological problems, with the only tool we have: our senses. There is no other tool, no other possibility.

When the mind is disturbed, as in most of us, we cannot rely in our senses, in our perceptions (because they are too week). There must be some factor which is stronger than thought and its phantoms. This factor is the clear perception of now, of the actuality and therefore the clear differentiation between the field of thought and the field of perception. When you are anchored in reality, (and you can do it only with your senses and with your sense of the now) your thoughts and so fears, etc. will appear as what they are: abstractions or a false reality. It’s like when you observe a film (or a movie as you say overthere), you know it’s not real. Thoughts or images have a grip on us because they seem real, factual, and as long as they have that power of reality there can be no transformation. One must discover a reality which is more powerful (so to say) than thought.

To talk about an ability, a future possibility, an ideal, is the conditioning. It is the same path we have been following with all the religions, all the ideologies, forever. We think there is an ability for us to fix the problems, change the world, not seeing it is our way of acting which is the cause. That’s why we need to understand conditioning, and not just a word, but completely, the actuality of the nature of mind we live with.


Are you saying that senses are in the future?

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Hi Voyager. Thanks for this interesting story! Listening to the river or observing a tree or a cloud all seem to be an excellent starting point. I understand that Krishnamurti pointed out that if we observe a tree, a cloud, a mountain or ourselves with a silent mind which is free of past conditioning and our full attention, a great deal of learning and understanding will take place and that this learning is transformative. It is obvious from the depth of K’s learning that he was able to look inwardly at himself and discover things that remain completely mysterious to the vast majority of people.

Experimenting with all this in everyday life seems to be a natural starting point for anyone interested in Krishnamurti’s teachings. Is there another place to start?

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Hi Thomas. I think that K implied that if you can give this simple, undivided perception when observing a flower, that same quality of observation will be available to you when you’re, say, sitting on a bus, speaking with friends or observing your own anger. Or are you saying that the mind can only be silent when surrounded by peace and nature?

I’m glad to find someone interested in K.'s teachings. :smiley:

I think there could be several starting points. If you follow a complete series of the talks K. used to give for instance in Saanen, Brockwood or Ojay, you can see that K. followed almost always the same progressive development of his teachings. In the first talks he set the basis for understanding the human consciuosness, then the solution to the main disturbances like fear, attachment, hurts and desire, and then in the last talks he introduced meditation. This to me seems to imply that there must be some fondamental preparation or requirements. However as he pointed out, there is no relationship of causation in those steps. That means that you don’t do this to get that. He talked that one has to put things in order in his house, then the insight might or not come. So as far as my understanding goes, every “chapter” (or single talk) of his books can be a starting point. All those issues, fear, hurts, the nature of thought, achieving, etc. are related, so actually one can start tackling one problem, according to his interests and understanding, and he is bound to meet all the others too.

One of my favourite starting point - just a personal view - is the “revolution of value”. But it takes time and space to talk about it. Maybe I’ll open a new thread on this topic later on.

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About observation, experimenting with observation, I may bring a personal experience which perhaps might give some useful clue.

K. stated that if one stayed with some disturbing psychological aspect like fear or a hurt, without escaping it, but observing it with all one’s attention, that disturbance disappears or undergo a transformation.

For years, yes just years, I’ve experimented with this without getting any result. I had a deep sorrow and I kept on observing and remaining with it for hours but the sorrow was still there. After a long while my resistance collapsed and either I went to find some distraction to forget the pain or fell asleep.

Now I think I know why I failed: I was observing it with resistance, that is without love, and of course without my senses fully awake.

Some weeks ago, I repeated the experiment with a disturbing fear which I had, but this time I had my senses fully awake and I was well grounded in the now. After few minutes the fear disappeared. So the quality of the observation matters and also the ground from where it arises.

Hello Voyager
Nice post, very well elaborated. It’s indeed of utmost importance to have clear undestanding of few of the terms, phrases, which recur so often in K dialogues, texts and his books. Like Observation : awareness : perception : attention : listening : etc to begin with … and his extraordinary importance given to ’ observation ’ states everything - provided one is touched by the teaching. There is never any mention of deviation from ones daily life but while ones going about the activities of every day chores - one needs to be observant ; like while driving the car just throwing few glances at the sky , trees, and he used to tell the students while shifting from one class room to the other - just look at the flowers and trees in the ground ( this I heard from some one ) … well if one interprets for oneself - it feels k is asking to ’ pause ’ - taking a baby step nevertheless to get seperated from ’ thought world ’
and then observation faculty needs to get extended to oneself - observing each and every aspect of oneself - the way one behaves, sits, eats, conducts so on and so forth ; and finally observing of course in relation to the other ; ones emotions, feelings, sensations and all that.

Observation and Awareness don’t they go together ? when one is observing , one is aware too of the activities around , the world and of oneself . In k teaching utmost stress given to both the worlds - inner and the outer

" If you follow a complete series of the talks K. used to give for instance in Saanen, Brockwood or Ojay, you can see that K. followed almost always the same progressive development of his teachings. In the first talks he set the basis for understanding the human consciuosness, then the solution to the main disturbances like fear, attachment, hurts and desire, and then in the last talks he introduced meditation. This to me seems to imply that there must be some fondamental preparation or requirements. However as he pointed out, there is no relationship of causation in those steps "

In the above points you summed up very well - the systematic way k used to lead the listener from one state to the other. at some other place he states the very ’ setting of the house in order ’ is the real ’ work ’ which can lead to ’ meditation ’

The real problems many and most people end up in - expecting some magical quality to happen and alleviate oneself from misey and sorrow … if at all one is honestly and keenly wishes to understand where and how they had gone wrong even after reading Krishnamurti for years together … I feel this is the place to start … reflecting on one’s mind and state of affairs with life

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Yes, of course. but it must be added that it’s very important the quality of observation and the ground from where it arises.

Well said. I decided to write this post because I felt in this forum there were too many people stuck in the intellectual plane and not trying to do anything.

When I take what I am reading, or listening to, as elements of a point of view, it is because the point of view is there.

Well, don’t you think that in a forum, in a decent and friendly discussion, in order to estabilish a dialogue and so a reciprocal understanding, one has to explain his point of view, and what’s even more important, explain why he does not agree with the point expressed by his/her intelocutor?

If one does not do that, then he/she is putting himsel/herself in a position of authority.
An example of what I am saying is your recent remark in the thread "Love “debunked”.
You cannot utter a statement as if you were the oracle od Delphi.

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But the tree is not producing pain and suffering in me. It’s relatively easy to objectively observe the tree or the flower. If my spouse insults me and there’s anger or fear or some sort of deep emotional pain, then there’s a resistance to observing THAT dispassionately, right. How can I observe objectively that which I’m fighting against or resisting? I’m not fighting against the tree. The tree is not causing deep suffering. The mind may stop on my walk thru the park or the woods and suddenly I’m observing free of the ‘me’. I used to take such walks daily for a period of about a year or more. And I’d get totally lost in observing…just observing free of thinking. Looking at deep fear or anger is another issue. One needs to uncover the cause/s of fear and anger or one will find one immediately resists or condemns or judges, all of which prevent objective looking/observing. Then, I think K asked that one observe THAT…the judging etc. Understand the barriers to observing…understand how the barriers prevent simple observing.

There is a kind of perplexity here which is similar to the old dilemma: which comes first the egg or the chicken?

What comes first, understanding the barriers to observing or observing itself?
How can you/ do you understand those barriers? you have already understood them verbally, inellectually and you have not improved your situation. K. never meant that intellectual understanding or ourselves, of the barriers is sufficient to get free of them. There is a kind of understanding totally different from that which takes place in doing things. You have the possibility to understand those barriers if you start observing, if you start grounding yourself in the present. There is no other way.

That is just what I have been doing, and it does not work. I think the problem lies in that “dispassionately”.
It’s not a matter of being dispassionate, that is like suffocating our emotions. Do live your emotions even if unpleasant. That is “what is”. At every moment in our life there is something we cannot avoid. We usually shrink, but you are not avoiding it this way, you are only torturing yourself. Once you see - mind see - in observation that it’s impossible to avoid “what is”, and there is passion in you, passion means energy, that passion will embrace your emotion.

Right…suffocating. So ‘what is’ for me, in a moment of deep emotional pain, is the desire to run away. and I normally have followed that course. I would get involved in my art or my music or a good book or movie. That desire to run is ‘what is’, and fighting it is only creating further inner conflict and pain. Just sharing what I’ve personally lived through for many years.